Leo Koenig lands the first Grand Tour stage victory for NetApp-Endura

Team News | 31.08.2013

Leopold Koenig won the eighth stage of the Vuelta a España and for his Team NetApp-Endura, the most important success in the teams history to date. The 25-year-old Czech rider prevailed as the day’s best rider after a 14.5-kilometer final climb to the top of Alto Pena Blancas in the south of Spain, relegating Daniel Moreno (Katusha) and Nicholas Roche (Saxo Tinkoff) to second and third place. With his stage win, Koenig went up to 5th place in the general classification.

Leo Koenig: “This is for sure incredible and I am more than happy. I told the team this morning that I want to win this stage and asked for the support of the whole team. The guys were amazing. They had to stand up against the whole peloton and we did it. I am proud that we realized the victory together. That was so important for us. Now everyone realizes that we are able to play our cards. Leaving today's victory behind me, I will focus on this tough stage tomorrow because it is a new opportunity and we are here to take all opportunities. I want to repay the team for its great work and of course the Vuelta organization for trusting us with a wildcard.”

Ralph Denk, Team Manager: “Congratulations to Leo and the team for this fantastic success. We seriously prepared for this highlight of the season and invested in training camps and inspections of the climbs. That paid off today. Our goal was a stage win. To take the pressure off the team, we wanted to achieve this goal as soon as possible. Leo attempted it on the second day and just barely fell short. Today was a new opportunity, which was why we worked the entire day. Now we can ride with ease. Everything that happens now is an encore for our guys.”

Enrico Poitschke; Sports Director: “It was a very hard day, but also a great day. We just couldn’t sit back and take it when Bartosz was forced to fall behind in the breakaway group. That’s why we decided: ‘Now we’re really going for it.’ We started the race today with a clear goal and wanted to make it reality. That’s why we put everything into the chase and were rewarded for it in the end. The way we handled the stage was inimitable. I’m certain that some people had surprised looks on their faces today. After all, it was impressive to see how the guys worked together. We did everything right.”

A large breakaway group, which initially included Bartosz Huzarski, set the tone of today’s 167-kilometer stage up until the foot of the final climb. Since Huzarski was the best-ranked rider in this group, pressure from several teams forced him to fall behind in the field. NetApp-Endura subsequently took over the chase at the front of the field and chipped away at the breakaway riders’ lead. Despite this energy-sapping work, the team’s climbing specialists were able to get into a good position on the mountain. Over the course of the climb, the lead group was thinned out. After several attacks, Leo Koenig was able to pull away from the favorites two kilometers before the finish line and hold onto a one-second lead up until the very end.